|NYCFC's David Villa holding off Chicago's Michael de Leeuw - USA Today Sports.|
New York City Football Club clinched a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
NYCFC improved to 15-8-8, in third place in the Eastern Conference. They are six points behind the Red Bulls (18-5-7, 59 points) for second and six points ahead of Columbus (13-8-9, 47 points).
NYCFC dominated from the start, pouring in nine shots in the first half and notching 66.2 percent possession. Their best chance came in the 43rd minute when David Villa came down the center of the box, got a cross from the right, and kicked it just above the crossboard.
In the second half, NYCFC picked up right where they left off, as they marched deep into Chicago territory.
Chicago attempted to clear, but NYCFC kept it in just inside the center circle, and it got to Villa, who then found Maxi Moralez.
After taking it into the box, Moralez fired a pass to Alexander Ring on the right, and he buried it to make it 1-0 NYCFC. It was Ring's second goal of the season, and Villa earned his fifth assist of the season.
It didn't take long for NYCFC to double their lead, and it was Moralez who got it going again.
Moralez came down the right side, nearly to the touchline, then he fired a pass back to Villa at the top of the box, and Villa drilled it to make it 2-0.
This was Villa's 12th goal of the season, and with assists on both goals, Moralez now has 15 assists.
For the game, NYCFC racked up 19 shots, including 6 on target, to Chicago's 4, with 1 on target.
This was NYCFC's first win since August 12, when they won in Toronto, 3-2. In the six-match winless streak, they had three ties and three losses.
NYCFC Head Coach Domenec Torrent said of the satisfaction of winning and clinching a playoff spot, “First off I want congratulate the team, I was told that we are officially in the playoffs, which is very important. Also, I want to congratulate them on being able to win again, it was very important to win for our fans because with these last two games in Yankee Stadium, we deserved to win and sometimes it doesn't happen because this is football…I think the team deserved to win again one game, I don't want to be tough so I think we are in the right direction to be better for the playoffs.”
Torrent said of them now having a sense of relief that they won a game, “Of course it's very important for us to win the game for our fans, for our players because you have more confidence when you are able to win the game. Especially, today in the second half because in the first thirty minutes we didn't play fast, we played very slowly when we had the ball. We improved a lot in the second half, especially in the first half we defend deep and in the second half we were compact and we were able to recover many balls, and create many chances.”
Ring said of his goal, “I mean, it’s always nice to score. I don’t score often, everyone knows that, so it feels special. But yeah, the most important thing is that we clinched the playoff spot today and we have to be happy about that and now we have a couple of games to find our rhythm. To find the flow that we need for our players. I think that we’ll be ready when [the playoffs] start.”
Chicago fell to 7-7-16, with 28 points, in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Their playoff hopes took a big hit with this loss as they are 12 points out of a playoff spot with four games remaining.
Chicago Fire Head Coach Veljko Paunovic said of what was different about NYCFC in this one than the last time they met on June 30, which was a 3-2 Chicago win, "I think NYCFC had much more confidence here. I think that's the same with every team in the league when they play at home. The other difference is that Villa is back. The other game he did not play so that makes things much more difficult for every team. But to be honest I didn't feel like we couldn't achieve, create opportunities or get to the right spots to have occasions to score so it was good. First half was okay. The second half was unfortunate, both goals were unfortunate, and without taking credit of NYC's performance, but it's obvious that we could have done better, so that's it."
NYCFC hits the road for a match in Minnesota on Saturday night at 8 p.m. Minnesota United is currently in ninth place in the Western Conference with a record of 10-3-16, with 33 points.